Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
March 14, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 4     (4 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 4     (4 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
March 14, 2014

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 4A By Ben Cohen - , HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 14, 2014 Israeli Apartheid Week is a Soviet creation to confess, might have been a little obscure. "I oppose Israeli Apartheid Week because the analogy is a smear invented by the anti- Semitic USSR," I said. But there is, in my view, an im- portant truth here that I want to elaborate on. After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the Soviet Union became the main. source of state-spons0red anti-Semitism in the world. The Communist leader Joseph Stalin, who counterposed ideas of patriotism to the "internationalism" of his opponents in the party, started depicting Jews as a disloyal fifth column whose true allegiance was tO Zion- ism, rather than the socialist motherland. (Sound familiar?) Amidst all the dark talk of • "rootless cosmopolitaris"--a euphemism for "Jews"--Stalin, many historians now agree, began making plans for a mass deportation of Jewish citizens to Siberia. This potential second Holocaust, in the shadow of the first one, was averted only by Stalin's death at the height of the so-called "Doctor's Plot," in which mainly Jewish doctors were put on trial on fabricated charges of attempting to poison Soviet leaders. #Rethink2014 is one of the more creative Twitter hashtags I've recently encountered. Launched by students opposing the hatefest otherwise known as "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW), the hashtag is designed for incorpora- tion into tweets that explain why this ghastly annual event is a series of calumnies and lies from beginning to end. Some examples: "I oppose Israel Apartheid Week because I know what apartheid actually means." "I oppose Israel Apartheid Week because I'm sitting next to an Arab-Israeli Muslim IDF soldier on the bus in Jerusalem." "I oppose Israel Apartheid Week because it promotes anti-Semitism on campus." There are literally thousands of tweets in similar fashion, in yet another demonstration of the pushback against the IAW bigots that has, thankfully, gathered pace this year. My own contribution to the hashtag, I have Letter from Israel [ Settlers and the ultra-Orthodox administration, Friedman may appear more influential than he really is. In the present government, and the longer haul from 1967 onward, an anti-settlement perspective has been a minor voice in oppo- sition. Despite reservations heard early on, construction has gone forward so that there are some 300,000 Jews in East Jerusalem, and another 350,000 elsewhere in the West Bank: Recent increases have been mostly in Jerusalem and the established settlement blocs, reflecting policies to restrain the set- tler moment, which is much different from a willingness to remove major settlements. Such an initiative Would have to overcome the antipathy to what has occurred in Gaza since the removal of settlements in 2005. Haredim are easier to define than the set- tlers and their supporters, but there are also problems with knowing the size and politics of this population. One should begin with the differences in style between the Sephardim, arrayed under the leadership of the SHAS political party, and the Ashkenazim of Torah Judaism. However, neither the Sephardim nor the Ashkenazim are united communities. Most prominently among the Ashkenazim are congregational differences, including personal rivalries between prominent 'abbis, whose implications for political action can only be guessed at by outsiders--even those considered to be expert--with limited access to the communities. The overt posture is that all Haredim oppose the prospect of recruit- ing their young men to the IDF and/or the workforce, but there is at least the suspicion of flexibility lurking somewhere within the closed ghettos of the ultra-Orthodox. Along with being outliers in Israeli politics, both the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers have claims based upon Jewish traditions. The Land of Israel and the study of Torah resonate to some extent with political sophisticates who are secular. Palestinian diatribes against Jewish encroachment and European legisla- tion against kosher slaughtering or infant circumcision ring as the latest expressions of anti-Semitism to Israelis whose parents fled the Holocaust or Muslim fanaticism. Ameri- Sharkansky on page 15A By Ira Sharkansky Settlers and the ultra-Orthodox are im- portant minorities in Israeli politics. Both are somewhere on the fringe of key decision- makers, but must be taken into consideration even if not part of the A-team. There is no precise measure of either group. "Settlers" are both more and less the people living in post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem and elsewhere over the 1967 borders. Many, most, or the overwhelming majority of the people living in those locales chose their residence for any number of prosaic reasons, with no thought of making a political state- ment. And there are people living elsewhere in Israelwho are on the settlers' team, supporting whatever their leadership 'demands. It may be useful to think of the settlers as overlapping Israel's ,'religious" population. That is the term for the Orthodox, but not the ultra-Orthodox. That (roughly) 10 percent of the Jewish population tends to accept a prior claim over the Land of Israel along with other religious doctrines. However, this, too is problematic. There are Orthodox Jewish Israelis who do not support extensive settlement due to their priority for reaching an accord with the Pal- estinians or avoiding tension with Americans and Europeans. Moreover, some of the most active settlers are not religious. Whatever the composition of the "settler camp" in Israeli politics, it is important enough to be taken into consideration with respect to any decision likely to affect them or their aspirations. Currently they are represented in the gov- ernment by Jewish Home, with 12 out of 68 members of the coalition, and the ministerial positions of Housing and Construction, with special relevance for settlements, as well as Industry and Trade, Religious Affairs , and Pensioner Affairs (pretty much a made up job meant to give its minister a seat at the table, plus car, driver, and aide). Thomas Friedman is the drummer in chief of Diaspora Jews against settlement, with acolytes in Israel. Thanks to the circulation.of the New York Times, a.nd his contacts with the Obama THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISH¥OICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Chris DeSouza HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo • Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Colunmists  Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley * Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein * Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman • Gil Dombrosky • emaih Joyce Gore Stalin's successors stopped short of outright genocide against the Jews, but the anti-Semitic discrimination came thick and fast. In both the USSR and its satellite states like Poland, the communists launched anti-Semitic purges under the cover of "anti-Zionism." There was a robust propaganda element to these actions, since the communists were keen to square their loathing of Jews with the imperatives, as they saw them, of Marxist theory. And so, from the early 1960s onwards, the Soviet Communist Party began pumping out books and pamphlets dedicated to showing that Judaism and Zionism were doctrines that glorified Jewish racism towards non-Jews. The ugliest example of this genre was pub- lished in 1963--note that date, because it's four years before Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem following the Six-Day War--entitled "Judaism Without Embellishment." The author was a man named Trofim Kichko. If the book brought anything to mind, it was the Nazi tabloid rag Der Sturmer, whose viciously anti- Semitic car- toons where echoed in Kichko's book. Around the caricatures of hook-nosed Jews counting their frtunes in synagogues, Kichko came up with such gems as, "Jehovah delivered all the wealth of the non-Jews to the use of the Jews" and "Speculation in matzah, pigs, thievery, deception, debauchery--these are the real characteristics of many synagogue leaders." Kichko combined this classic anti-Semi- tism with anti-Zionism. He defined Zionists as the "ideological parasites" of "Jewish capitalists" and flayed the Zionist move- ment--in much the same manner as today's intellectually fashionable anti-Zionists--as a particularly brutal form of colonialism. This last theme resurfaced in many of the Soviet publications that followed Kichko's book. In 1975, the Soviets began pushing another libelous tract by Valeri Skurlatov, entitled "Zionism and Apartheid." In that work, Skurlatov screeched, "Racial biologi- cal doctrines, according to which people are divided into 'chosen people' and goyim, have been turned into official ideology and state policy in Israel and South Africa, where the 'inferior' are forcibly separated from the 'superior.' That is what apartheid is." Such propaganda went hand in hand with Soviet efforts to demonize Zionism as a form of racism, culminating in the notorious U.N. Resolution 3379--rescinded in 1991--equat- ing Zionism with racism. And because foreign policy is often domestic policy, the campaign against "Zionism" was an integral component of the repression of the Jewish communities inside the Soviet Union. It's a sorry history that should be pointed out every time the slanders of Israeli Apart- heid Week are aired. IAW likes to think of its activities as promoting human rights. In fact, its advocates are the ideological inheritors of a modern libel--that Zionism and apartheid are the Same--that was deliberately manu- factured to oppress Soviet Jews, at the behest of a state that murdered millions of people in its gulags. This is the company that Israeli Apartheid Week keeps, and it is time--as a Marxist might say--to toss the event onto the dust heap of history. Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for JNS. org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Com- mentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications. What's your story? By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News Patternicity" is what scientists call the human tendency to find meaning in random events (seeing patterns where none exist--like faces in the clouds or Jesus in a potato chip--is known as "apophonia'). Connecting the dots can lead to false conclusions ("Paul is deadI"), brilliant insights ("E=mc2"); or the latest Malcolm Gladwell bestseller. I spent Sunday at Limmud NY, the annual festival of Jewish learning, sampling classes on Israel, Jewish spirituality, anti-Semitism, and even Israeli comedy. And though it is not the coincidence of the century, I was still surprised at how teachers and presenters in different rooms, coming from different backgrounds and talking about different things, could often seem as iftheywere in conversationwith one another. Now in its 10th year, Limmud NY breeds these kinds of connections. It's not just the connection among the hundreds of learn- ers who attend, or the connections between teaches and students. That's a given. Rather, you sense that Judaism is an organism, or maybe, as Lewis Thomas once said about ants, "one big collective brain." In one classroom a rabbi is studying the prayer said at bedtime. In another a policy expert is discussing Israeli security issues. And somehow they are talking about the same thing. Israeli journalist Ari Shavit was one of the stars of the conference, held this year in Stamford, Conn. On Sunday morning he unspooled a thread I would be following all day long. Shavit's agenda-setting new book, My Promised Land, is probably best known for its unsparing reportage on the violence carried out by Jews during the War of Inde- pendence. But his critics, too busy accusing him of aiding Israel's enemies, overlook his far more expansive project: restoring the Zionist sense of purpose that inspired Israel's founders in the first place. Shavit feels no guilt over Zionism, which he called "the most successful revolution of the 20th century." Israel fulfilled "a deep need of a real people, but one that was an endangered species, physically and spiritually." Fast forward more than half a century, and Israelis and Diaspora Jews have a morale prob- lem. "We've lost our narrative," Shavit told a packed conference room. "We had a narrative before we had anything else. We knew where we were coming from and where we wanted to go. And while we have become stronger, our narrative disintegrated." Shavit shared his policy proposals for a two-state solution and terrified everybody about Iran, but mostly he offered a plea for a shared narrative that would undermine the "extremists" and "cynics" currently leading the communal debate. "Our politics is unworthy," said Shavit. "We are entitled to love ourselves, and use this celebration of life t(deal with all the challenges of the first half of the 21st cen- tury as we did with the first half of the 20th." This search for a common narrative was also heard in a panel discussion titled "Why Judaism?" with rabbis from four different streams. David Ingber of New York's Romemu spoke of "mispachtology'--a sense of family that leaves us, strong enough and confident enough to learn from other religions. Shai Held of Hadar, the author of an important new book about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, warned about "technological language" that tries to convince people that embracing Judaism will lead to "personal enrichment"--as opposed to instilling a sense of service and generosity to others. Asher Lopatin of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah asked how we can create "passionate communities," where embracing the mitzvot isn'tabout saying"no" to the secularworld but "yes" to a sense of ownership. All these rabbis agreedthat there are multiple Jewish stories and that the challenge is getting secular, global citizens to start writing their own. Even Abraham Foxran, attending his first Limmud only days after announcing his impending retirement as head of the Anti- Defamation League, worried that the Jews have lost a common narrative. Most of Foxman's talk was devoted to his fight against anti-Semitism. But he began, significantly, by talking about threats from within, not without. "After every trauma, the Jewish community said, 'We want to continue to be Jewish,'" said Foxman. "Will the Jews without trauma get up every day" and say the same thing? "Will the Jews still want to be Jews?" A few hours at Limmud can lull you into optimism, into believing that so long as a few hundred people can gather for four days of learning, the Jewish future is secure. But like so many Jewish gatherings, there is anxiety about replicating that sense of purpose for a rapidly assimilating Jewish majority. And no one is sure what story or narrative Can create a Jewish community--a Jewish organism--out of so many indifferent Jewish individuals. Will it be Zionism? Torah? Service? The arts? Or maybe what we need, as rabbi and author Danya Ruttenberg put it in the "Why Judaism?" session, are more "non-sucky Jewish experi- ences." Like Limmud. Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.